To the editor:

As we continue to reckon with the pandemic after two years, we still grapple with how this once-in-a-century virus has shaken the very foundation of our society and has altered the way we do business. The COVID-19 pandemic has had a devastating impact on our local economy and especially our small business owners. As we walk through our neighborhoods, it’s disheartening to see some of our favorite restaurants, shops, and businesses closed and boarded up for good, unable to weather the storm.

If we know one thing about the city of Chicago, and particularly the South Side, it’s that we are a resilient community. We have remained strong and united through the most challenging of times.

During this period of recovery and regrowth, we need strategic allies. Allies that are willing to work in tandem with our small businesses and community members to help us rebuild. Bally’s Chicago is this kind of ally. In collaboration with local stakeholders, they have created the first of its kind Community Rewards Program. Bally’s Community Rewards is a unique opportunity for our local businesses to benefit from a world-class casino, built right here on the South Side.

Through this rewards program, local businesses will be promoted and exposed to over 4 million visitors every year. Tourists who come for the gaming will stay to patronize the local establishments, with estimated revenue of $30 million annually. Gift cards and reward points earned at Bally’s can be redeemed at any nearby participating store.

Chicago’s first casino will generate hundreds of millions for our city. We know that the South Side has a long history of disinvestment so we must welcome this opportunity to showcase the talent, pride, and beauty of our community. Bally’s has committed to partnering with minority-owned businesses and hiring from the surrounding community. We have a willing partner who has and will continue to make themselves available to meet with the community and keep our needs at the forefront. We are willing to bet on us, are you?

Sara Phillips,

Owner, Chef Sara’s Cafe

Jennifer Barnes

Owner, South Shore Brew

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